Can a Good Man Be Saved and Not Be a Member of the Church?
In the title of this article, I am not using the word “church” in a denominational sense. The Bible knows nothing about a denomination. Our question for discussion is: “Can a man be saved and not be a member of the church the Lord had in mind when He said, ‘Upon this rock I will build My church’ (Matt. 16:18).”
I believe the Bible teaches that a man must be a member of the church described in the New Testament. Notice the following reasons:
1. There is an example of a good man having to obey the gospel (Acts 10). In verse 2 it is said that he was a devout man, a God-fearing man. In Acts 11:14 it is said he had to hear words whereby he and his household could be saved. He is an example that a man cannot depend on his moral goodness. He obeyed the commands and was added to the church (Acts 2:47).
2. Redemption is in Christ (Eph. 1:7). One cannot be in Christ without being in the body of Christ. The church is His body (Eph. 1:22-23); so one cannot be in Christ without being in the church. A penitent believer is baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). He is also baptized into the body (1 Cor. 12:13). This shows that to be in the body is the same as being in Christ. If one is saved out of the body of Christ, he is saved without being connected with the head. Christ is the head (Col. 1:18).
3. Reconciliation to God is necessary to be saved. One is reconciled to God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:18). It is said that one is reconciled in the body of Christ (Eph. 2:16). So if one is saved outside of the body, which is the church, he is saved without being reconciled to God. Who can believe it?
4. Those outside of the body are aliens (Eph. 2:12). He is without God, a stranger, no hope, and without Christ. Can that kind of person be saved? Paul said that those in the body of Christ are fellow-citizens with the saints (Eph. 2:19).
5. Finally, the church, which is His body, is the family of God (1 Tim. 3:15). Members of His church are heirs (Rom. 8:16-17). They are God’s children. Will God save any other than His children? Does God have children outside of His family?